Sunday, 10 March 2013

Recipe XCII - Beef Rendang

I have a list of things I wish to do before I die. Some are probable, some definitely possible, but some are unfortunately both improbable and one is impossible, and quite frankly unspeakable and highly illegal, but such is the nature of our innermost thoughts. However, one of the things on my list is to taste all the great curries of the world, including a Thai green curry, a British tikka masala, a Jamaican goat curry, a Japanese chicken curry, a Lao curry with dill and a Malaysian rendang. But I mean I'd like to be there when I eat it. But that may take a little time and planning. I could always fly them in, but I'm sure there's only one thing better than being there eating it, and that's having it put in front of you on a plate. (Incidentally, did you know the British introduced curry to Japan?)

Anyhow, I decided to go shopping to the Asian shops in town and pick up the ingredients for a rendang and make my own version of it. It's basically everything traditionally in it, except I was unable to find the kaffir lime. But I'll add it to the list of ingredients. It was utterly worth the hard work making it, and I'd do it again tomorrow - my kitchen, indeed the street, smelled divine for most of the afternoon.

600g-750g diced beef, but that's for MUCH later.

Ingredients for the paste:
80g grated fresh coconut, but the packet version will suffice if you have no access to a fresh one
1 tsp of turmeric powder
6 hot red chilis, seeded and roughly chopped (I used half a sweet pepper because they had run out of small ones)
2 tbsp coriander seeds, or the same in powder (the crushed seeds are so much better in terms of flavour though)
1 tsp of cumin seeds, or the same in powder (the same applies here too)
5 shallots or small onions, chopped enough for the mixer
50g peeled ginger, sliced up for the mixer
30g garlic, chopped for the mixer

Instructions for the paste:
Put the coconut into a large, heavy pan and roast for a couple of minutes, continually stirring, until the coconuts turn a golden-brown. Pulverise the coriander seeds and cumin in a pestle and mortar for a long time, or if you have a spice grinder, put it through that.

Put all the above ingredients, including the coconut, into a mixer and give it a really good pulping. The mixture should end up looking something like this:

Put it to one side. You are now ready to prepare the rest.

Ingredients for the rest:
About 200ml tamarind paste + water (2 parts paste, 3 parts hot water)
4 thick pieces of lemon grass - break it with a rolling pin before you put it in
2 sticks of cinnamon - break in half to release the flavour
2 cans of coconut milk
3 spoons of brown sugar
10-12 kaffir lime leaves, chopped or broken up
and the beef, of course
Feel free to add a few vegetables. I didn't, but there's nothing stopping you.

Take your heavy pan and put some coconut oil or vegetable oil in it. When hot, add the beef and seal.
Then put in the paste, cinnamon, lime, coconut milk and lemon grass. Once stirred in and settled, turn the heat right down to simmering level, add the tamarind paste and let it reduce for up to two hours. One and a half hours should be more than adequate. Stir very frequently.

After 90 minutes, it should have reduced.

Serve with some aromatic rice.

I think this was probably the best thing I have ever cooked, although nothing beats the real thing - one day I will get there!

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